May 26, 2010 Local officials are staring down a great tunnel of the unknown in the wake of Michigan's passage of the Medical Marihuana Act.
While voters favored the Act's goal of allowing people in pain or with other types of medical conditions the option to seek relief by using marijuana, much of the general population is now scratching their heads when it comes to how this medical supply will be distributed.
Municipalities around the area are scrambling to regulate what is now a legal business enterprise. Often called 'Compassion Centers' or 'Care Centers,' marijuana dispensaries are a place where patients can procure the drug.
The state law is clear about the requirements for patients and caregivers but there are huge gaps when it comes to regulating what is likely to become a major industry in this state. There are no guidelines regarding compassion care centers, where they can or cannot be located, how they can or cannot be utilized, etc.
It makes sense that local officials are seeking legal advice on the matter, but this huge gap in the law is indeed a great unknown. A hodge-podge approach that varies from municipality to municipality is likely to create a subset of problems that could clog the already heavily burdened judicial system for decades. On the flip side, some municipalities may embrace the issue, create medical, industrial and growing sites and capitalize on the new industry.
As it stands, the gates are wide open. There is no dispute that medical marijuana patients and caregivers have a right to obtain, procure and use marijuana. Where it goes from there, right now at least, is anybody's guess.